At first, Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's system of "tapping" to cure his throwing woes conjures images of Nomar Garciaparra, circa 1999, with all his twitching and toe tapping.
However, "tapping" serves a different purpose for Saltalamacchia, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN.com.
The catcher, who has had issues throwing the ball back to the pitcher at times in his career, has employed a system of taps — starting with a touch to eyebrow, moving down to the pectoral muscles and finally concluding with a tap to the head — designed to promote positive emotion.
A branch of what performance-enhancement coach Tom Hanson calls "energy psychology," "tapping" is based upon the same theories of thought behind acupuncture.
"Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion," Hanson told ESPN.com. "Say you struck out to end the seventh inning, and you still have to play defense and might come up to bat again. How to clear out that negative emotion? You focus on the negative. Start on your eyebrows. Focus on the negative. Each site, your eyes, below your nose, below your lip. The idea is to do a tap lap, go down and around, tap the top of your head, then start again. Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion."
Hanson himself admitted to initially thinking the idea of the system was "stupid," but after seeing the tapping produce almost immediate results on a distraught high school player, Hanson began to buy in.
Saltalamacchia has, too.
Now 25 years old, the former prized catching prospect has become more forthcoming in discussing his battle with the "yips," admitting that initially, he didn't want anyone to know he was struggling.
"I didn't want anyone to know I wanted somebody, I needed somebody," Saltalamacchia told ESPN.com. "That was a big issue with me. But it's done wonders for me. … I've learned to be able to work with that. Think smart, think positive. You can't put negatives in your head, it's just going to hurt you all around. It's been great for me."
For Saltalamacchia, the throwing "yips" started as a result of an injury and snowballed into an issue that effectively ended his tenure in Texas.
But with his throwing issues hopefully a thing of the past, the focus for the switch hitter is establishing himself as Boston's starting catcher. With the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia has the support structure to finally cash in on all that enormous potential.